April 25, 2010 by 8junebugs
To whoever submitted this secret this week:
That you are still there is not your fault. No matter how much you know about verbal and emotional abuse, it works through slow manipulation that makes you unsure of what you know.
And then, even though you know what’s happening to you, leaving is scary. When you know you’re being abused and you know other people know it, leaving requires that you acknowledge what’s happening — whether you talk about it or not — and that it has been happening for some time.
You’ll wait for someone to ask you why you stayed so long (someone will). You’ll wonder if they all think you’re not as smart as they thought you were (someone might). You’ll question whether they’ll still respect someone who let someone else abuse her (they will…most of them).
There is no “letting.” Emotional and verbal abuse are perpetrated on you, against you, just like physical abuse. You are not an accomplice in abuse — you are the victim. This is incontrovertibly true even if (especially if) the person abusing you insists that he or she is the victim. It is true even if he or she is sometimes loving or thoughtful.
You’ll try to think of a way to explain that you stayed because you didn’t want to believe that whatever you fell in love with was gone or a lie. You’ll try to recall some good times to prove that you’re not crazy or stupid, that there’s a reason you stayed as long as you did.
In case anyone asks.
You suspect that walking out without visible bruises will lessen everyone’s sympathy for what you’ve been through. If you’re strong enough to leave, will it make you less of a victim?
It won’t, and it will.
You are, and you always will have been, the victim of someone who said they loved you and then tried to control you…how you felt, what you said, how you acted, how and where you spent time, money, and effort…even how loudly you laughed. Collateral damage may include friendships, family memories, and opportunities.
But once you leave, you will not be that person’s victim anymore. You will have started down the road toward just being you, and knowing that that’s enough.
And although it won’t feel like it right away, anyone who loses sympathy because they can’t see any scars doesn’t have any place in your life anyway.
There will still be times when you question yourself — it’s hard to trust yourself when someone has systematically torn down your sense of your own worth, and the abuser in your life will not let go of control easily. He or she will call you a quitter and put the blame for the killing the relationship squarely on your shoulders.
It is your fault…for recognizing your own worth and refusing to let someone else tear it down any longer. This is your basic right as a person, and no one else’s rights — real or imagined — trump that. So go ahead and take the blame — it’s better than taking the abuse for the rest of your life.
And maybe, two years later, just maybe, you’ll look back and see a lesson learned the hard way, but learned nonetheless. You’ll know you’ve been through your own personal hell, and you pulled yourself out of it. Maybe you’ll see your life swing back into a balance it hasn’t had in 10 years, and you’ll see a future ahead that fills you with joy instead of dread.
Please, please leave. You don’t have to be there anymore.